Chapter Seventeen has been posted

Chapter Seventeen is up.

I’ve collected about $40 toward Chapter Eighteen so far. Alas, Chapter Eighteen isn’t actually written yet, but I hope it will be by next week.

I think I should probably warn everyone — the protagonist’s name is likely to change soon. I’ve decided “Vengar” was a bad choice. Haven’t settled on a new name yet, which is why it hasn’t changed yet.

I got my copies of The Spriggan Mirror last week, and have packed up all the ones I’ll be mailing to last year’s donors. Maybe a third of them were mailed out before the three-day New Year’s postal holiday; I hope to get the rest on their way tomorrow or very soon thereafter. This has been an educational experience; I now know what a book weighs, what overseas shipping costs, and so on, and can therefore say this: $25 donated now will get you a finished copy of The Vondish Ambassador when it’s ready if you live anywhere in the U.S. or Canada. If you live elsewhere, $30 should cover it.

I messed up several details; out of about 180 copies packed and mailed, I screwed something up on maybe a dozen. If you were one of those, and got an unsigned book when you’d asked for an autograph, or your book went to your old address, or whatever, I apologize; it was my first time doing this, and there were a few bugs in the system. I hope to do better next time.

I’m still trying to locate Richard Russ and Robert Allen. (A third missing person has been found.)

A happy new year to you all!

51 thoughts on “Chapter Seventeen has been posted

  1. that was an awesome chapter.

    toward the end though:

    “Thank you,” Vengar said, as he pulled tight the drawstring on his purse and ran for the door. “If you know a good to pray to for me, I would appreciate it.”

    I think it should read ‘a god to pray’. Or maybe ‘a good prayer.’

  2. So, why is Vengar a bad choice?

    That was very interesting, and it made me think back to The Unwilling Warlord and the edge of the world.

  3. Excellent chapter. Enjoyed it a lot. But you did use a wrong name, you named Vengar as Valder.

    “That seems strange,” Valder remarked.

  4. And at the tail end of the chapter you have:

    “If you know a good to pray to for me, I would appreciate it.”

    which should be:

    “If you know a good god/deity to pray to for me, I would appreciate it.”

  5. Obviously, I don’t know why LWE thinks “Vengar” is a bad name for the
    character, but *I* think it’s a bad name because it suggests vengefulness and
    vengeance, and Vengar doesn’t seem to be an especially vengeful fellow.

    Re the chapter’s events: I’d say that in light of all this the government of
    Vond urgently needs to be dissuaded from destroying the Lumeth Source.

  6. Another thing: if the Lumeth Towers are sorcerous, then they really can’t be
    the same thing as the northern Source, because LWE’s said (in r.a.s.f.w.)
    that the Source is not sorcerous. That means that warlocks can power
    themselves off two entirely different things, which is intriguing.

  7. As I recall, wizards are prohibited from killing high government officials (which Lar surely qualifies as) unless in direct self-defense or to enforce Guild rules. Which means that if Lar has been targetted by Fendel’s Assassin (Man, did Fendel invent half of all wizard spells?), then this is a Guild-sanctioned hit.

    Oh dear, oh dear. I mean the hints were starting to pile up when we found how much magic was protecting the Towers, but this confirms it. Okay though, so why did the Guild try to let the Lumeth contingent do the job first? My guess would be that they would have far prefered not to act directly. Lar isn’t directly crossing the Guild, and killing him is a violation of the “leave us alone and we’ll leave you alone” pact that has kept the peace between the Guild and temporal rulers for hundreds of years.

    This could end up being an enormous bungle on the Guild’s part.

    Other comments….

    I know we’ve heard of the Transporting Rift spell at least once before. I always figured it must have some hefty limitations, or it would get used more often in place of tapestries and flying carpets.

    Corinal seems pretty skilled for a Theurgist. I was certainly impressed with the breadth of knowledge he was able to get out of Unniel the Discerning. I’m wondering how lucky Venger was to stumble across his shop.

    But… if the Towers are Sorcerous talismans and they keep out poisons surrounding the world, then who put them there? Was Sorcery invented orginally by something other than human beings?

    Actually, of all forms of magic introduced in the Ethshar series, I’ve never felt like I’ve gotten a handle on Sorcery. Supposedly “the right talisman can do anything”, just like the right wizard spell can do anything. Wizards can’t really research the “right spell” if they don’t already know it, though the best of them can sort of feel their way along to new spells that will do something related to what they want (they hope). Wizardry is powered by the fundamental chaos of creation.

    But what powers sorcery? How do sorcerers research the designs of new talismans? How difficult is it to build a new talisman, and can you build one to do exactly what you want? I don’t think any of that is nailed down in any of the books.

  8. Wizards aren’t allowed to interfere in government on their own account, but they’re allowed to do spells on behalf of government when hired to do so. That definitely includes military attack and defense spells, but I’m not sure if it includes assasination.

    Do we know that the towers themselves are the Lumeth Source, or just that the Lumeth Source is approximately where the towers are and Vond assumed the towers themselves were the source? Might it be something inside or beneath one of the towers, or otherwise near enough that Vond couldn’t tell them apart?

    The bit about “poisons that surround the entire World” reminds me of the scenes in The Unwilling Warlord where Vond experiments with the stuff out there beyond the edge of the world. The Lumeth towers seem to be a lot nearer the edge of the world than the center; does that suggest there are other similar towers spaced around near the edge of the world in other places?

  9. Sorry about the “good” for “god” and “Valder” for “Vengar” typos; I’ll fix ’em shortly.

    Vengar is not a good name because I’ve named too many other characters Vengar, to the point that someone asked me if this was the same guy as a warlock who appeared in The Spell of the Black Dagger. He’s not, and I want to remove any possible confusion on that point.

    I have a list of Ethsharitic names I haven’t over-used, the same list I got all three Lumethans from, and I’m narrowing down the possibilities. Salman is a leading contender at the moment.

  10. It really looks like that theurgist was under paid. He would have charged 3 bits for 15 mins (or less) work and only got 5 for all afternoon.

  11. Jim Henry:
    You can’t kill a government official… unless someone’s paying you to do so? (To paraphrase.)

    Nah, seems like too fine a distinction for practicality. The purpose behind the rule seems to be to keep wizards from becoming rulers through the backdoor- by threatening and enspelling the theoretical rulers into doing what they want. I don’t think the excuse of getting hired by some other government official would fly.

    At least that’s the impression I got from ‘Black Dagger’. But it’s possible I’m misinterpreting things.

  12. targetted by Fendel’s Assassin

    Has that spell being named before ? If not, then that could also indicate that it is a high level spell that is rarely used.

  13. What, Fendel’s Assassin? I don’t know whether it’s been named before or not; I haven’t always kept track. It’s a third-order spell, takes two to three hours for a competent wizard, doesn’t require any especially exotic ingredients — just honey, salt, a yard or so of silk, a bloodstone, and a wizard’s athame.

    It also isn’t nearly as deadly as, say, the Rune of the Implacable Stalker. Not all of Fendel’s spells were world-beaters.

    If it hasn’t been mentioned before, that’s probably because it’s not all that useful.

  14. Fendel’s Assassin was used by the Wizards’ Guild in Night of Madness. It could kill a wizard if they’re caught off guard, and I don’t know how a non-magician could defend against it.

    I’ll let Lawrence comment on whether wizards can do assassination spells against an official of one government on behalf of another government — if he wants to; more likely we will find out sometime in the next few chapters. I was basing my guess on the fact that Sterren hired one or two wizards, along with others, to help the Semman army against the invaders, and on the comments in Night of Madness about how wizards can do contract work for the government even though they can’t hold government posts, and how the guild rules about separation of magic and state don’t seem to be consistent.

  15. Well, I liked Vengar (though I like Delgar better) but I suppose overuse is a valid point. I can just imagine a short story, however, featuring Kelder Kelder’s Son, Kelder Kelder’s Son, and Kelder the Older off on a quest to free their friend Kelder from Kelder the Mad. It would be an interesting puzzle just trying to follow the action.

  16. Salman doesn’t seem right to me … isn’t it a variation of Solomon (e.g. Salman Rushdie)? I don’t remember any Bible-based names in Ethshar before, and it would add some etymological dissonance for me, especially for a major character.

  17. Sarai isn’t a Bible-based name?

    But there are other possibilities, if Salman doesn’t fit. Dennel or Emmis, perhaps.

  18. Yes, of course. About a hundred and fifty for each sex. Then there’s another handwritten list that’s actually older, but which I mislaid for many years, with about forty more, mostly masculine but with a few feminine ones.

    I’ve used all of the male names on the long list; a few of the female names haven’t been used because I thought readers would think they were funny (e.g., Mavis). And only about half of the list that was missing for years has been used.

  19. The problem is that Mavis is a real name, as well as an Ethsharitic one, and in fact there’s a character named Mavis who has her own comic book — she’s the secretary for the law firm of Wolff & Byrd, the stars of Supernatural Law, and got a spin-off series for awhile.

    Mavis is a great character, so I wouldn’t be able to use the name myself without thinking of her.

  20. I remember reading a (bad) fantasy book in high school where the lead character was named Bingo; it sounded like a hobbit name and was in fact the original name of Frodo before Tolkien changed it.

  21. Great chapter. Probably one of the most revealing about the World I can remember from any of the books.

    Makes me think that the Cult of Demerchan was created to maintain the wizardry spells protecting the Towers of Lumeth. I think the spells are there to keep the Sorcerers from trying to use the power of the towers, and inadvertantly letting in the poison surrounding the World. The Cult also keeps the Wizards Guild from monkeying with the towers, who may forget why they placed the protections. Probably a highly restricted Guild secret.

    The poison seems to be the same stuff that surrounded the otherworld floating castle from With a Single Spell. Since the World is flat, and floating in a sea of poison, and things fall from the sky (like the Source), they must’ve come from somewhere. I wonder if the original Sorcery Lumeth Towers fell from another world also floating in a sea of poison. Maybe that World was much larger in size, and so the talismans were small pocket sized stones there?

    I now despair of ever knowing exactly what warlockry is. If the Gods cannot explain it to mere mortals like the theurgist “in an even remotely intelligible fashion”, how can LWE explain it to us?

    I must confess that I do not like the name Salman. Reminds me too much of LOTR.

    I think Vengar got a great deal on the questions, but the theurgist didn’t feel bad about the transaction. It was a once in a lifetime visit with the God for him, and Vengar’s questions provided it. I’m surprised that theurgists don’t ask minor Gods of information how to get a lot of face time with other, more important Gods. Maybe they won’t answer questions like that?

  22. Salman makes me think of Salman Rushdie and the fatwa against him. Just think if they’d had Fendel’s Assassin available.

    If the towers are responsible for holding back the poison mists, maybe Lar’s problem can be solved by investigating the possibility that Warlocks drawing from the towers will eventually weaken them to the point where they can’t hold back the mists any more.

    I’ve always thought Sorcerous artifacts were left over from a highly technologically advanced pre-apocalyptic society. I think of Warlockry as similar to D&D psionics, although I don’t think that relies on external power sources. I guess we’ll just have to wait for The Final Calling to get an official answer. Or maybe LWE will find a way to dodge the question even then.

  23. LWE, when you change Vengar’s name, could it be with something that starts with the letter V? I know that would make it easier for me since I’m rather used to it now.

  24. (I just did some editing of damaged or superfluous comments; hope no one minds.)

    Unfortunately, while I understand your desire, I don’t have any V names on my list of preferred candidates; I was leaning pretty strongly toward Emmis, since the objections to Salman seemed cogent.

    The only male Ethsharitic names starting with V that I know are Varrin, Valder, and Vengar. I suppose I could invent a new one.

  25. Vengar’s not Vondish; he’s Ethsharitic, born and bred in Shiphaven.

    Virzirin, maybe? Naah, too hard to type.

  26. I really liked this chapter!

    Not that my preference means anything, but I like Emmis as a name.

    Also, just wondering… was there anything else interesting that Corinal forgot to pass on? Vengar had asked about the identity of the assassins… and maybe Unniel had some really cool recipes that s/he wanted to tell someone about (Vengar did ask about cookery)

  27. Yes, there was interesting (to Vengar) stuff that didn’t get passed on, including cooking advice; I think it wouldn’t have interested most readers, though, so I’ll probably never do anything about it.

    Unniel didn’t have anything useful to tell him about the assassins, though.

    I did leave out one line that’ll be in the final draft, about Gita; Vengar gets directed to ask Mazhom about her, too.

    I really think I may go with Emmis, despite the different initial.

  28. I think it is interesting that the god gave cooking advice (though the specifics could easily be skipped, it could be funny to note it some how, something like “and she gave me sixty minutes of cooking advice, that’s when my ear started to bleed. You’ll need to come back to get it, I’m too tired to keep talking.” or some such.

    What about Tengar? Emmis makes me think of emetics and such, though I bet I’d get over it in a chapter or two.

    I’m still hoping this project keeps going through to the Final Calling at least.

  29. Insane far-fetched speculation: the explanation for the confusion about the nature of warlockry involves time travel.

  30. Whoops — I deleted Bo’s comment, then reconstructed it. The original deletion was because the e-mail address he used, when it showed up in my notice that there was a new comment, was “obviously” a spam-generating mail-drop…

    Sorry about that.

    Anyway, no, there’s no time travel involved with warlockry.

  31. My copy of TSM came Friday.

    I just want to add my thanks and appreciation for LWE’s hard work and perseverance in making this experiment an enjoyable experience for me. Despite the publishing issues, LWE’s communication of the whole process made the entire project a fun one to watch and be invloved in. Heres hoping that TVA and future projects are as successful and as fun.

    Thanks again,


  32. Well, it has been fun so far, and from what little math I can do in my head, I think it has already been more successful than TSM was, since he is charging 250% of TSM’s per chapter price, and I believe we are past the half-way point, since the first draft of TSM had 28 Chapters the Epilogue and Notes on Gresh’s Family.

    So, this book has already brought in more than the minimum needed by the first serial, though I am not certain how much over the minimum Lawrence took in, if any. Even so, I think this book has already taken in more than TSM did.

  33. …I am not certain how much over the minimum Lawrence took in, if any.

    A lot, actually. That’s why I thought I could get away with this large a price increase.

    Even so, I think this book has already taken in more than TSM did.

    Nope. Not even all that close yet.

    This one may be significantly longer than The Spriggan Mirror, too; I’m really not sure. I don’t have the next stretch plotted out in enough detail to be sure of the length.

  34. Hi,
    I got my copy of TSM too. Read it twice over the weekend. Thanks LWE!

    The envelope it came in looked fine, but the book itself looks like someone dipped the spine in water. Faint water marks on inside of both front & back covers and a tendency toward roughness & wrinkling of pages.

  35. Well the towers were obviously setup to keep out the poison mists. There are all types of guards to keep people from messing with them. Still doesnt really tell us about the world does it? Can people see stars at night? I like how the Gods do answer about warlockry but that it doesnt make sense to us mortals. But it was clear that we are missing the point on what it is. This strikes me that warlock powers are an unintended conection of something else. Like powering the towers but somehow also powering certain minds as well. Its all intersting.

  36. Please don’t name him “Salman”. Aside from everything everyone else has
    said, I’d keep thinking of salmon and muttering that there was something
    fishy about that character.

    I can’t think of any objections to “Emmis”.

    If you decide to stay with a name beginning with V, how about “Varus”. Admittedly, it’s a real name too, and as you probably know it once belonged to a soundly defeated Roman general. But it’s not a real name in English.

  37. After reading Chapter 18, I find I am now more in favor of Emmis than Vengar. For some unfathomable reason, I find it easier to reconcile the flash if insight/cleverness the protagonist displays in Chapter 18 with the name Emmis than the name Vengar. Vengar doesn’t strike me as being clever enough to have thought of that particular dodge. It’s the same character, so perhaps I am basing this more on earlier displayed actions than the names, but I think Emmis will be better.

    I got my book and chapbook today. Both are in excellent condition. I also quite liked the stamp on the envelope. I agree with the earlier post in that I like the cover art better on the book than I did when I viewed it online.

  38. Well Emmis sounds good to me, I have to admit maybe I was tired or something but when reading the first chapter I kept getting Lars and Vengar confused. I kept linking the V in Vond with the V in Vengar and thinking Vengar was the ambassador.

  39. Would it make sense to wait until the final draft to change the character’s name, instead of changing partway through the first-draft serial?

    I received my copy of TSM and the “Sirinita’s Dragon” chapbook Monday, in good condition. Not planning to re-read TSM it until some time after _The Vondish Ambassador_ is done, but will probably read “Sirinita’s Dragon” soon — I’m reading E.R. Eddison’s _Mistress of Mistresses_ and it’s of a density such that I want to take a break with lighter short stories from time to time.

  40. I don’t see any real reason to wait until the first draft is finished. I’ve changed characters’ names in mid-story before, though admittedly not in a serial.

    As for “Sirinita’s Dragon” being lighter… it’s not one of my more cheerful stories, actually. It’s sort of the Ethsharitic “Old Yeller.”

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